Duck man' cares for birds at Highland Park
HERE DUCKY, DUCKY n Fred McKee has been caring for the ducks at Highland Park for 41/2 years. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Aug. 20, 2001
Fred McKee breaks the early morning quiet of Highland Park by banging a metal pole against the rim of his feed bucket.
More than 40 ducks waddle to the 72-year-old man, loudly quacking as if they are in a dither.
That was four and a half years ago, when McKee, retired from 40 years as a truck driver, decided to make a change.
McKee frees a duck from some fishing line.
The Meridian city employee, who works part-time for the Parks and Recreation Department, uses his own motorized three wheeler and his own three wheel bicycle to peruse the park, making sure the playground is free of broken glass and debris, checking for vandalism, picking up trash, cleaning the sidewalks and streets and making minor repairs.
McKee arrives each morning at 6. The ducks know the sound of his bicycle and expect to feed when he rolls up, he says. He makes his initial rounds on the bike, both for exercise and for the slow pace.
McKee switches to the motorized three-wheeler. He moves from one spot to another, cleaning the restrooms, getting coffee started for the maintenance workers and checking on the welfare of his beloved ducks.
Children are also familiar with McKee, often spotting him in Wal-Mart. "I'll hear them say, Mama, there's the duck man.'"
During spring months, Gibson volunteers his time and talent, raising ducklings at home to be transferred to the park's pond when they're old enough.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for the Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.